Our garden is growing. I know…basil and beans won’t feed us all summer long, but it is cool to eat food you grow. And it all started with a book.
A few years back, I found Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace on our Kindle. It is about Buddy Bear, who receives a package from his grandfather with five tied and tagged bags, one to open each day. Each bag has something to do with seeds and Buddy Bear learns about all different kinds of seeds—corn, pumpkin, apple, and eight other kinds—how seeds grow into plants, and the difference between seeds we eat and those for the birds.
This sparked an idea—we should grow a garden! I was further inspired by our babysitter, who has been growing a garden since she was five.
That first year I bought lots of stuff, cleared a spot in our backyard, and found it was more work than I anticipated…particularly the weeding. (Why do weeds grow better than anything?) I’ve learned a lot over the years and now try to keep it simple. For one, we use pots. Here’s what we do.
Our Garden…From Seed to Plant
When we started, I bought a Jiffy Professional Greenhouse. This lets us start planting when it is still cold outside. (Usually around March.) The clear cover lets us watch what’s happening and keeps the moisture in so the seeds can start to grow without much work on our part. This greenhouse is also nice because it is refillable—you only buy the pellets each year. And once the plants start to grow, the plants and pellets are easily taken from the tray and planted.
First, you line up the pellets (it turns out it doesn’t matter if it isn’t exactly the right size)…
…and water them to make them expand.
Next, plant the seeds. This should mean fluffing the dirt, making a little hole, dropping in the number of seeds as directed, and covering. But your kids might have other ideas.
Then put on the lid and keep in a warm place.
Our tray sits in our front window. It takes about a week or so to see some green peeking through. About a month after we start, some of the bigger plants—green beans and cucumbers—are ready to be transplanted. We move them to yogurt cups, then to bigger pots once they outgrow the cups. For the herbs, we wait a little longer and then put them in their final pots. One less transplant needed.
And I’ll tell you a secret. There are years that the herbs have stayed in the greenhouse tray (with lid off—that comes off when the plants start to grow). I try to give myself a break. While the boys love this project, they’re not ready yet to completely do it themselves so it is still more a “Mom project.” I’m hoping they’ll take over eventually. Every spring since we started they’ve asked when we can get our seeds.
For now, they’re learning about seeds, how plants grow, and patience. I hope this will inspire you to do a little growing, too.
In addition to Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!, there are lots of great books about plants and growing. Here are a few to try:
- National Geographic Readers: Seed to Plant by Kristin Baird Rattini—a nonfiction title that your early elementary kids can read and see how a plant grows through beautiful photography
- The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle—a classic story about the journey of seeds and a life cycle of a flower
- Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert—from seeds to soup, this story takes kids through the whole process and even includes a recipe for the soup
If you garden with your kids, please share some of your adventures and tips.